Director: James Gunn
If there's one thing that's certain, Guardians of the Galaxy is heralding the arrival of a new movie star. The comedic talents of Chris Pratt have been showcased in TV's Parks And Recreation and supporting movie roles like The Five Year Engagement, but now he's shed the puppy-fat and put in some serious gym-time, Pratt has become that witty but dreamily handsome leading man that so very few people can pull off. Adeptly balancing the all-guns-blazing hero with a sweet and personable everyman, he creates the "dude" that lads want to be and the hunk that everyone else fancies. In a few short years, Pratt has become hot Hollywood property and Guardians seems to have almost been created to showcase this Captain America-cum-How To Look Good Naked transformation.
There are people out there claiming that Guardians of the Galaxy is Marvel's best film, particularly comparing it to Avengers Assemble. There's no doubt that this is by no means as strong a film as the latter, but it does contain the same sparkle and wit. There's a playful humour to it that's both mischievous and dark, with big nods to more absurdist sci-fi a la Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy. The film also feels like you are watching a very large scale and big budgeted episode of Red Dwarf, though with a better plot, storyline and concept (is it just me that HATES that show?). Really, Guardians isn't a superhero film at all and calling it one is misleading. Just as Thor took the Marvel universe further and further from earth, this just propels it WAY out into the furthest reaches of sci-fi.
It would be a disservice not to give the soundtrack a MASSIVE mention of course. The mixtape of 70s and 80s tunes that Peter had received from his mother plays a central role in the plot and so it's only just that the whole film be underpinned by its music and the juxtaposition of these retro songs against the most colourful and highfaluting spangly SFX id almost genius. The analogue music, playing against a background of high-definition 3D wizardry is Tarantino-esque in its scope and gives the film that edge that everyone else is fizzing over. But putting this and its finely honed script aside, it still has the problems of a relatively thin plot and a series of cameos from Hollywood Royalty (Glenn, why?) that are obsolete and gratuitous. While certainly a better than average superhero film, it's not one we'll be looking back on in years to come as the pinnacle of its genre as others are claiming.